Thursday, August 30, 2012

Euskaltel's best not enough on hellish climb

Euskaltel put it all on the line in Thursday's 12th Vuelta a España stage to the top of the equally enthralling and vicious Mirador de Ézaro, but once again came away empty handed.

The 190,5km stage starting in Vilagarcía de Arousa and ending atop a short, 1,9km steep climb (including pitches of almost 30 percent), turned out to be as perfectly tailored to Joaquím Rodríguez as experts would have it to be prior to the stage, the diminutive red jersey seemingly easily dispatching of Contador in the last 200 metres en route to a commanding solo win.

Mikel Astarloza infiltrated the break of the day and was impressively the last man standing as he attacked his breakaway companions on the early slopes of the climb and held off the pack 'till approximately 1000 metres left to ride. He looked in great shape on a climb one would think was too steep for his liking and eventually clung on to a more than decent 31st on the stage.

"We knew we needed around a minute and a half at the base of the climb to stand a chance of making it, but they were going fast behind us. It was a shame. Yesterday I did a good crono and today we were also ahead, but it seems we need a bit more time to win. But I'm feeling good and we'll continue to fight", Astarloza, riding his first Vuelta since 2008, told the team's website post-stage.

Igor Antón wisely realized it would be practically impossible to best Rodríguez in a sprint at the top, and tried his luck from afar. The 29-year-old attacked some 1200 metres out and quickly got a small gap, but it never looked likely to succeed as he was always kept on a tight leash by the Katusha riders. He was duly reeled in some 400 metres later, but he still had enough in the tank to grab seventh on the line and thus maintain his 11th place overall. Gorka Verdugo once again looked to be his best shape in a while, snatching 10th on the stage and moving up to 19th on GC.

"I'm satisfied with the outcome of the stage, with the climb", Antón told the media atop Galicia's Mur de Huy. "I attacked early to try and surprise the others, but it wasn't to be. But I'm happy as I was feeling good. I haven't gotten the best of results each day, but I know I'm in good form, evidenced by my attacking today and not losing a lot of time by the top. There's still a lot of racing left and the important thing for me is to know that I'm on form", he said.

Stage 12 results (full results here):
  • (1, Joaquín Rodríguez (Katusha), 4:24:32)
  • 7, Igor Antón, 0:27
  • 10, Gorka Verdugo, 0:36
  • 23, Amets Txurruka, 0:57
  • 27, Iván Velasco, s.t.
  • 31, Mikel Astarloza, 1:13
  • 54, Juan José Oroz, 1:58
  • 95, Mikel Landa, 3:08
  • 96, Romain Sicard, 3:19
  • 104, Rubén Pérez, s.t.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

That was some hill, 4min 41sec for the last 1k!

Great to see the orange shirts at the front at the end of another exciting stage and a privelage to watch Purito finish it off like that.

Best GT of the year.


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